Most of us live far away from our family or have been disenfranchised by them because of skeptical, freethinking, or atheist views. This is very common in groups like ours so we need to create our own family. As human beings, we are naturally socially dependent. We need to feel validated, heard, understood, and supported. That’s what family usually does for us. That’s why community is so important. The times you want to go out and celebrate and laugh and dance with your friends or sit and have a few drinks and cry over being fired, these things need to be processed and you need perspective from people who know you best. This should not be done alone. You need people to check on you from time to time to let you know you are being thought about, missed, and valued. This is one example of what the STAR family means to me. There are more but this is the story about the first time I felt I had found my home.
My husband and I met Jed and Vicki Gettman at an event with another group at a meetup. We hit it off, thought Jed was hilarious (and still is) and Vicki was easy to talk to as well as welcoming to us. It was our first time coming out and talking to other people since we had decided we were ready to label ourselves as Atheists. We had been for many years but never told another person, since many of our blood family are all religious to some degree. We didn’t know what to expect, but we decided we would take a cautious approach. Within a few weeks, we were invited to a few events, and then game night at their house. Everyone welcomed us and we felt very comfortable. Once we left, we said, these are our kind of people. We enjoyed getting to know everyone and becoming closer with them at each event over the next few months.
A few months later, I was told that I needed surgery. It was a major one that was going to put me in recovery for six weeks. We have family here and close by but they had jobs and couldn’t afford to take off work. My husband, Jerry would be there but I was concerned for him. I knew I would be cared for in the hospital. A few days before the surgery, I got a message from Vicki. She said, “what can I do for you”? I said, “Can someone please be there for Jerry”? She said, “Consider it done”! I didn’t know how she would do it or who would be there, but I believed her. The next morning, Jerry and I went to the hospital at 6am to prep for surgery at 8am. The next thing I knew, I’m heading back to surgery. When I was taken to my room, Jerry and Chad were there. I thought, oh that’s nice, Vicki sent Chad to be with him. Jerry said, “No, Vicki and Jed were here too until just a few minutes ago.” I couldn’t believe it. And Chad stayed until they got me settled in the room around 4pm.
Later that night, I was messaging her to thank her. She asked what else she could do. I asked if she could come back the next day to give Jerry time to go home and sleep. He normally works nights and this was messing with his sleep cycle. She said, “No problem!” She was there around 8am and didn’t leave until around 8pm that night when I was discharged. She made sure I was getting rest and reaching the goals the doctor set for me to be able to go home. She kept me company and only left my side once, to get herself some lunch. She and I had not known each other very long but she went out of her way to be there for me. She even helped me get dressed! And the next few days, she checked on me and brought me a smoothie! That is what I mean by family.
There are many other examples that other members can share about Vicki and other members of the group who are just as loving and giving. In the past year, the more than 40 people in our circle, we have had several child births, pet deaths, job changes, family crisis, desperate need for child care and even emotional breakdowns. The fact that I know, no matter what I go through, STAR, my people, will be there for me and I will do everything I can for them in return. This is fulfilling the basic human needs to belong, feel validated, respected and accepted. We have learned our strengths and weaknesses through the many hours of community service and social events are feel safe to be ourselves without judgement. We aren’t perfect, we aren’t superheros, but we try to be. We don’t judge parenting styles, household cleanliness, or personal finances. We only do our best to be there for each other and build our relationships through our efforts to help others. We praise each other’s talents, support each others families, and we hug, a lot!
If this is something that you feel you want to be a part of, please join us, the more of us there are, the stronger we are together.